El Salvador

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France and El Salvador

Political relations

Our bilateral relations have been based on confidence and friendship since the end of the internal conflict. On 18 October 2012, the French Ambassador to El Salvador signed an instrument formalizing France’s status as an observer of the Central American Integration System (SICA). France thus became the eighth extraregional observer, alongside Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Taiwan.

France also participates in the monitoring group for the Peace Accords monitoring process, put in place by the government of El Salvador in late 2016 and headed by Benito Andion, Special Representative appointed by the UN Secretary General. This facilitative mission aims to establish a constructive dialogue between Salvador’s political, economic and social forces.

Visits

The French President’s Personal Envoy for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, made a visit to El Salvador from 5 to 6 April 2016, during which he was received by the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Relations. He also met with the General Secretary of the Central American Integration System.

Mr Bel also represented the President of the French Republic on 16 January 2017 during the ceremonies to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signature of the Chapultepec Peace Accords.

A delegation from the French Senate’s France-Mexico and Central America friendship group visited El Salvador from 14 to 18 April 2016.

The French Minister for Foreign Affairs met his counterpart from El Salvador, Mr Hugo Martinez, during his visit to France from 17 to 19 October 2016. Mr Martinez also was also head of the El Salvador delegation during the global Open Government Partnership Summit in Paris in December 2016. On 11 December 2017, he also signed in Paris with Ms Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, a bilateral agreement aimed at facilitating financing operations in El Salvador by PROPARCO, subsidiary of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

Economic relations

France’s trade with El Salvador is modest but France has a trade surplus. In 2017, France’s exports fell (€23 million vs €24.5 million in 2016) and imports increased slightly to €14.3 million.

France’s economic presence is enhanced through contracts won in El Salvador by French businesses, notably in the field of renewable energy. The French company NEOEN opened a 101 MW photovoltaic solar energy plant in El Salvador in May 2017, the most powerful in the region.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Bilateral cooperation is mainly focused on promoting the French language, cultural exchanges and university education. It is supported by a dynamic network: the Consuelo et Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Lycée in San Salvador is the largest French language teaching establishment in Central America, with over 1,300 pupils, and its cultural and educational action extends beyond the school environment. The Alliance Française in San Salvador (1,250 pupils), also trains teachers of French.

Cooperation was recently bolstered with France and El Salvador signing a framework agreement for cultural, academic, technical and scientific cooperation on 2 June 2017, as well as a convention on mutual diploma recognition on 13 March 2018. Some 230 students from El Salvador are currently in higher education in France and are the largest contingent of Central American students in France.

For more information, please consult the website of the Institut Français of Central America

Development assistance

As regards development, the most high-profile project is Techo y Agua, a rainwater collection project set up using the El Salvador debt conversion fund. In 2017, the AFD also approved the funding of two NGO projects: an agricultural cooperative project by Secours Populaire and a project to improve the housing situation for women in precarious situations led by the NGO Habitat Cité.

An intergovernmental agreement supporting the work of Proparco (an AFD subsidiary) in El Salvador was also signed between the Minister for External Relations of El Salvador, Hugo Martinez, and the Minister of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Brune Poirson, on 12 December 2017 in Paris.

The French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) is contributing €1.1 million to help finance La Montañona, a project on the sustainable management of productive landscapes, focusing on conservation agriculture, agroforestry, agro-sylvo-pastoral systems and forest protection. The project is being co-financed by the FFEM, the Salvadorian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the association of communes of La Montañona and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE).

Updated: 28 February 2019